Jeff Chu was in Raleigh last week promoting his new hardback book: Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. His friend Justin Lee did a dialogue from one of the chapters in the book featuring Justin.
Jeff is foremost a writer who knows how to tell a good story. In person he is articulate and engaging and presents a calm demeanor of confidence without being arrogant. As a reporter and interviewer he obviously understands how to draw out people to get to the heart of their story. They tell him things they wouldn’t tell other people.
The stories are fresh and enlightening because he doesn’t have an agenda other than to try to understand what makes people the way they are and why they do the things they do. He’s not afraid to ask the hard questions but in a non-threatening way. His slight build probably unconsciously makes them think he’s just a kid, but he’s not.
The variety of perspectives in his book give the issue a new twist rather than rehashing the old canards about gays and religion. It’s more than just a debate about the Bible. His inquiries reach deeper into how people view and understand the basis of Christianity and how they interpret their beliefs and put them into action. He spent more than a year interviewing people to get these different perspectives and three and one-half years writing the book, so he was both deliberative and thoughtful in his research. He acknowledges that it is not a comprehensive or theological overview of the subject, but he does gives us a wide range of opinions and personal experiences. He feels that God lead him to these people.
This is not a gay book. It is about one of the most controversial issues facing Christians today, and the issue is discussed differently than in the usual adversarial approach of two opposing sides who talk past each other. I’ll admit that I was jealous of his starred review in Kirkus Reviews and a 2-column review by Dan Savage in The New York Times. He lives in a different stratosphere than I do.